Thoughtful client gift ideas for 2023
The holiday season has arrived; you might be considering getting gifts for your freelance clients, which is a custom that’s been getting more and more popular. After all, building better relationships with your clients can get you a long way. However, with this idea comes a few questions: What’s appropriate to get as a client gift? How much should you spend? Do you have to buy gifts for all of your freelance clients, or is there a conventional way? Don’t worry –this blog post was written to save you the trouble. Below you’ll find Ruul’s ultimate guide to freelancer gift-giving, along with a carefully curated list of creative gift ideas for clients. Happy holidays, happy freelancing, and happy shopping!
3 questions to ask yourself before buying gifts
Before you rush into buying freelance client gifts, here are 3 questions you should ask yourself:
What will you gain from buying your clients gifts?
It’s completely normal to be on the fence about whether buying gifts for your freelance clients is worth it. This is a difficult choice to make, but can potentially end up being highly rewarding for your business.
To help you make a decision, we collected some benefits this practice can bring you:
- Reinforcing stronger bonds and building a more genuine relationship with your client
- Underlining that you’re happy to be working with them through a nice gesture
- Possibly leading to long-term contracts by showing that you’re willing to spend money on them
- Paving the way for getting more business referrals
- Exhibiting how familiar you are with their wants and needs through personalized client gifts
Which clients should you buy gifts for?
If you’re not an incredibly small-scale freelancer, buying gifts for every client is virtually impossible. Picking out personalized gifts for everyone is a lot of time and effort, not to mention the added financial strain it can bring. So, how do you pick who to buy for?
Narrowing down this list might be difficult because you probably don’t want to ‘leave people out’. But, we advise you to focus on how you should be taking care of yourself first –both financially and emotionally.
Don’t feel pressured to buy any client gifts, and be mindful while filtering them out. Try to build on client relationships worth preserving, like long term loyal customers, larger contracts, ones that get you frequent referrals, etc. If you feel this is an insignificant and/or one-off partnership, buying them a gift might not be worth the cost and effort. Similarly, difficult clients you don’t want to stay in touch with shouldn’t expect a gift from you either.
What should be the price limit?
First and foremost, budgeting properly is important. After making a list of which freelance clients you’ll buy gifts for, you should divide up your gifting budget accordingly to avoid financial strain. Or, if you have a specific gift for someone in mind you really want to buy, you can frame the rest of your budget around that.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t be biting off more than you can chew when it comes to buying expensive gifts. It’s the thought that counts. All in all, it’s a completely personal decision that’s up to you.
Virtual gift ideas for freelance clients
Client gift cards are already a popular concept, but some fear it might feel too impersonal. However, you can easily customize them by creating your own virtual cards, or finding an online alternative with flexible templates. This way, you can send them on any special occasion, and also personalize them to fit your freelance business’ brand and customer’s situation.
In a 2018 research, PHS Wastekit found that, each year, 1 billion Christmas cards are thrown away in the UK alone. So why not stop wasting paper and go all-digital? Sending online cards is a great alternative–it’s sustainable, cheap (some options can also be free), and able to reach many more clients much easier.
- Price: Free if you design them yourself, less than $1 per client if you send them through online services
- Availability: All you need is an email account, and an online virtual card store, such as Paperless Post or Smilebox. Or, if you want to design them yourself, you can easily find free templates or use a graphic design software.
- Best for: Every client you want to thank, and/or has an important milestone coming up (holidays, birthday, promotion, etc.)
Charity donation in their name
What better way to share the warmth of the holiday season than to make a charity donation in the name of your client? It’s a really thoughtful gift that is bound to make some positive impact. (Bonus points if it’s a cause that’s near and dear to their heart.) You can email them the donation certificate you receive in return, and spread the love!
- Price: However much you want to donate
- Availability: Almost all charities accept online donations. There are also charity directory sites, such as Givewell, that can help you find a charity to donate to.
- Best for: Clients you want to extend your humane connection with
Getting your freelance clients a store gift card is a safe choice: This way, they’ll get to pick whatever they’ll like. You can pick a giant retailer for more buying options, like Amazon, or choose somewhere that you know your client loves for a more personal detail. You can also add custom messages to the cards for an extra touch of genuinity.
- Price: Anywhere from $10 to $200
- Availability: Online shopping sites, all chains, and some local stores
- Best for: Everyone that needs a little more encouragement during the holiday season
Physical gift ideas for freelance clients
If a virtual gift isn’t enough for you, and you want to physically mail a gift directly to your client, we got you covered. Here are 5 physical client gift ideas:
One of the first things that come to mind with client gifts is a gift box. These are customizable boxes that include specifically curated items, so that you can especially guarantee that your client will love them.
- Price: Affordable boxes start at around $25, with the average options around $35-45. Varies significantly between stores, items, etc., but you don’t really need to go extremely high-end to make it a significant gift.
- Availability: You can find many alternatives for client gift boxes (or client gift baskets) online (Greetabl, FoxBox, etc.). You can also DIY your own gift box with custom-bought items and ship it yourself for an added touch of genuinity.
- Best for: Long-term clients you want to express significant gratitude towards
In a very similar vein, a confectionery gift box (also called a “dessert gift box”) is an option that only includes tasty snacks and sweets.
- Price: Chocolate bundles are around $20 on average, but ones that include baked goods and desserts can be all the way up to $50-$60.
- Availability: International shipping might be difficult and risky for this gift. There are local online stores available (like Sugarfina for the US and Canada-based), which might be a better option.
- Best for: Clients you have a closer relationship with
A gift to help decorate your client’s office space and desktop can be a really thoughtful alternative.
The most popular option under this category is to buy a small plant, either real or fake. These are an easy way to spice up your office setup, relatively effortless to take care of, and also among the more inexpensive client gift ideas.
(Hint: If you’re not well-versed in botany, take a look at this article by House Beautiful that lists 11 low-maintenance plants that are fit for the office.)
- Price: Ranging anywhere between $9-$40, depending on the size and plant type
- Availability: Easy to find and ship from anywhere
- Best for: Clients with a stationary workspace, who will be able to take care of the plant (Not frequent travelers or digital nomads, for example)
Alternatively, you can consider some other office desk decoration gifts, such as:
- A terrarium
- A small decorative desk lamp
- A monitor stand
- A power bank / wireless charging station
- Desk organizers
- A compact air purifier
Staying hydrated (and caffeinated) in the workplace is an important asset. Which is why a personalized mug, tumbler, or even a small bag of coffee beans/tea blend can make a really good present.
- Price: Around $5-10
- Availability: There are many dedicated online shops that ship internationally (Zazzle, VistaPrint, Etsy and Amazon stores, etc.). If you don’t find a design you like, you can easily create a custom graphic through online tools like Canva.
- Best for: Caffeine lovers that you are familiar enough to customize designs for
Blue light blocking glasses
This might seem like one of the more unique client gifts on this list, but hear us out. Anti eyestrain glasses are both relatively cheap, and an easy way to protect your health and vision. Buying one might show your thoughtfulness and that you care for the well-being of your client, which will definitely lead to positive associations.
- Price: $10-15
- Availability: Many alternatives on international online retailers, such as Amazon
- Best for: Any professional who spends most of their times on their computer
Customize your freelance client gifts
It should be among your business goals as a freelancer to create longer-lasting relationships with your freelance clients, and sending them gifts is a great way to foster that. The most important thing to remember here is that the best client gifts are the ones personalized to the client. Don’t get them gifts just for the sake of it–show that you care.
We hope our list could provide a great starting point. In the meantime, get yourself a gift by exploring our all-in-one freelancer and solopreneur platform Ruul!
Find out how you can meet employee demands, and what kind of benefits you should offer to improve employee engagement, retention and satisfaction in your workplace.... read more.
This time on our exclusive interview series with our partners Ruulmates on the Mic, we welcome Ece Kurtaraner, a solo Community and Events Consultant based in Manchester.... read more.
Despite facing numerous obstacles, black women leaders have been continuing the fight to break barriers and fight racism in the workplace.... read more.